Riddle Coach & Hearse
Downtown Ravenna features several historic buildings with a plaque. On that plaque is the name Riddle – a prominent family that helped guide the city for generations.
Be sure to seek out the the faded remnants of a painted log on the side of the brick building located on the northeast corner of Main and Prospect in downtown Ravenna. On this site was once the Riddle Coach and Hearse Company.
The Riddle Coach and Hearse Company dates back to 1831 when it first began under the name of the Clark Carriage Company, owned by N.D. Clark. In 1861 Clark sold the company to his relatives: Charles Merts and Henry W. Riddle. The Merts and Riddle Coach and Hearse Company was born.
Charles Merts specialized in woodworking. Henry was the salesman. Merts and Riddle made high-end hearses using world-class artisans for wood carving, trimming and decoration. In 1891, Charles Merts sold his share to Henry.
Riddle hearses were world renowned for their fine quality and workmanship. Presidents Willian McKinley and Warren Harding were both carried to their graves in Riddle hearses. As recently as 1998 a restored Riddle hearse was used for the funeral of beloved movie cowboy and singer Roy Rogers.
In 1911 the company transitioned to manufacturing motorized hearses and ambulances, facing stiff competition. The market for proudly handcrafted vehicles waned and the Riddle factory closed in 1926.
However, the name lives on in the great heritage, influence and pride that continues to this day in our city.